In 2024, the Earth’s ozone layer has been depleted (or so most assume), and life is protectedby an electromagnetic shield designed by Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert). Eco-crusaderVirginia Madsen, however, believes that the ozone layer has restored itself, and the corporationthat runs the shield is maintaining it for its own purposes. Meanwhile, back in the past, villainMichael Ironside sends assassins to the future to kill Lambert, who is an aging man as the filmbegins… The assassins fail, Lambert becomes young once more, and he summons Sean Conneryback from the dead. Ironside arrives to take care of his nemesis personally.
I could go on, but I feel a brain embolism coming on. The Highlander concept was never themost intelligent SF/Fantasy idea (and I’m not just talking about casting Frenchman Lambert as aScot and Scot Connery as a Spaniard), but here the vacuity becomes painfully evident, and thetime travel aspect is beyond stupid. The dialogue is equally mind-numbing, and for a storyline ofcomparable inanity, the closest thing would be Battlefield Earth. From Lambert’sembarrassing old man voice to the ridiculous assassins, new idiocies assault the viewer withevery passing second. Granted, the production was shut down before the movie was completed,but it is hard to imagine the film was really salvageable. This edition represents the closestversion yet to what the filmmakers had in mind. The special effects have been heavilyoverhauled, but this isn’t a case of George Lucas-style endless tinkering. The previous version ofHighlander 2 had effects that were slapped on by technicians who were not part of theoriginal team, and the look of the film has been notably improved (the shield, for instance, is nowblue instead of a garish red). So the film looks much better, but no amount of effort can make asilk purse out of this sow’s ear.
Lions Gate has lavished a lot of love on the soundtrack, presenting it in both 5.1 EX and 6.1DTS ES. The surround effects are excellent, and their placement is superb. For a perfect exampleof this, watch the opening opera scene, and note how, as the camera revolves around the operahouse, the music shifts from speaker to speaker to remain spatially consistent. All the explosionsand zaps are impressive as well.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer may be a “state-of-the-art 24P HD master,” butthat hardly makes it the cat’s pajamas. For all the remastering, there is still a fair bit of grain, andsome moments of rather jerky movement. The image is sharp, however, and the colours arewonderful. Blacks and contrasts are also beyond reproach.
Disc 1 has no commentary, but does have a “Deconstruction” mode. Hit “Enter” with theicon appears, and you summon behind-the-scenes footage. These scenes can also be viewedindependently of the film.
Disc 2 has a 50-minute documentary as its main feature. This piece – “Highlander 2:Seduced by Argentina” – is a look back by director Russell Mulcahy, Lambert, and others at thetroubled production of the film. “The Redemption of Highlander 2” is a more detailed look at there-worked FX. “The Music of Highlander 2”, “The Fabric of Highlander 2” and “Shadows &Darkness: The Cinematography of Highlander 2” are featurettes with self-explanatory titles. Alsohere is the original Cannes promo reel from 1991, the theatrical trailer, and a montage of deletedscenes. These last are presented in uncompleted form, with raw sound. The menu is fullyanimated and scored.
So the look is much improved, but the movie is still terrible. Perhaps all involved can finallyachieve closure now.
Special Features List
- Deconstruction Mode
- “Highlander 2: Seduced by Argentina” Documentary
- “The Redemption of Highlander 2” FX Featurette
- “The Music of Highlander 2”
- “The Fabric of Highlander 2”
- “Shadow & Darkness: The Cinematography of Highlander 2”
- Cannes Film Festival Promotional Reel
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer